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Scrutton, Tasia. Divine Passibility: God and Emotion
2013, Philosophy Compass 8(9): 866-874.
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Added by: Emily Paul

Abstract: While the impassibility debate has traditionally been construed in terms of whether God suffers, recent philosophy of religion has interpreted it in terms of whether God has emotions more generally. This article surveys the philosophical literature on divine im/passibility over the last 25 years, outlining major arguments for and against the idea that God has emotions. It argues that questions about the nature and value of emotions are at the heart of the im/passibility debate. More specifically, it suggests that presuppositions about the dichotomy between emotions and reason (or the ‘heart and the head’) have negatively impacted the debate. It contends that the debate can only move forward in response to serious reflection on our affects as we experience them, aided by historical and anthropological as well as contemporary philosophical perspectives

Comment: A great paper to use when teaching non-classical conceptions of God. Could follow a lecture on the 'omni' God who is immutable, impassible, etc. It could also be interesting as a gateway to feminist Philosophy of Religion - i.e. the classical conceptions of God are typically 'masculine'

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Scrutton, Tasia. Why Not Believe in an Evil God? Pragmatic Encroachment and Some Implications for Philosophy of Religion
2016, Religious Studies 52(3): 345-360.
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Abstract: Pointing to broad symmetries between the idea that God is omniscient, omnipotent and all-good, and the idea that God is omniscient, omnipotent but all-evil, the evil-God challenge raises the question of why theists should prefer one over the other. I respond to this challenge by drawing on a recent theory in epistemology, pragmatic encroachment, which asserts that practical considerations can alter the epistemic status of beliefs. I then explore some of the implications of my argument for how we do philosophy of religion, arguing that practical and contextual as well as alethic considerations are properly central to the discipline.

Comment: A thought-provoking paper to use when teaching non-classical conceptions of God, which I think would be useful in an undergraduate course after teaching classical conceptions of God. Omnibenevolence in particular is an attribute that isn't often construed in a non-classical way, which makes this paper particularly interesting.

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Stump, Eleonore. Simplicity
1997, in Charles Taliaffero, Paul Draper & Philip L. Quinn (eds.) A Companion to Philosophy of Religion. Blackwell Publishing.
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Summary: An analysis of the concept of divine simplicity, including its origins, together and the traditional difficulties of attributing this mysterious attribute to God, both in a ‘stand alone’ way and in conjunction with other attributes that are commonly attributed to God.

Comment: Especially when we are finding that more and more students have studied philosophy of religion before University, it could be good to diverge from studying the classical 'omni' attributes of God in an introductory university course - so divine simplicity is an intriguing concept to examine. It can also be a great gateway into non-classical conceptions of God and feminist philosophy of religion. This chapter provides a great overview of divine simplicity which could definitely serve the above purpose.

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Zagzebski, Linda. Omnisubjectivity
2008, Jonathan Kvanvig (ed.) Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Vol. 1.
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Summary: Zagzebski argues that traditional omniscience ought to be revised into ‘omnisubjectivity’, whereby God has ‘perfect total empathy’ with all conscious beings. She elaborates on what is meant by this, and makes the important qualification that when God has perfect total empathy, God is aware that God’s empathetic state is a ‘copy’. Zagzebski is motivated by conceiving of God as a personal being, who knows everything about God’s creatures – including their conscious states. An analogy is drawn to Jackson’s Mary the Colour Scientist – Mary’s does not know ‘what it is like’ to see in colour when confined to her black and white room, in spite of knowing all propositional facts about colour science and seeing in colour. Similarly, with classical omniscience, God knows the truth value of every proposition, but does not know ‘what it is like’ to be each of God’s creatures. Omnisubjectivity alleges to thus build on classical omniscience, whilst avoiding the worry that God (mistakenly) thinks that God actually is each conscious creature.

Comment: Very useful for teaching about classical vs non-classical conceptions of God (omnisubjectivity being a 'non-classical' version of omniscience).

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